CEO SURFING WA,
HUSBAND AND FATHER OF THREE
I received a phone call from my doctor on Dec 28th, 2017 put all future plans on hold. I was diagnosed with stage 2 head and neck cancer – it had found its way into the lymph nodes in my neck and the base of my tongue.
In those hours that followed the phone call, I was immediately catapulted into this world of uncertainty as I started to uncover what lie ahead –
The hardest part was telling my three children and my wife. Seeing the fear in their eyes of the unknown.
I was rattled on the inside; I was still coming to grips with the passing of my father. I didn’t want my children to feel the pain and hurt. As a father and husband all you want to do is protect your children and your family – not knowing what lay ahead there was part of me that thought – need to be strong and it will be okay.
As a 55-year-old man, happily married with 3 healthy children – a loving family - great friends - a job that I love and a healthy active lifestyle – life had been kind to me. Before the phone call, as Christmas
approached in 2017, so did the anticipation of our first ever full family holiday – a trip of a lifetime to Japan to hit the snow. We had saved for a few years deciding to do something different from our usual surfing trips.
For several months prior to the diagnosis, I had observed a small lump in my neck. I booked in to see our family doctor who subsequently booked me in for several tests. It wasn’t painful, so I was far from concerned barely giving it another thought – luck had always been on my side. Little did I know my life was about to be turned upside down.
Once diagnosed my life changed. My total focus moved to dealing what was in front of me. I started the treatment confidently. At 6’2 and 95kg I had prepared myself physically and mentally, being so healthy I honestly believed that I would beat this fight with cancer.
Initial exploratory surgery followed. I had teeth removed instantly making eating very tough. Then a plan was set for an 8-week chemotherapy course combined with a daily radiation treatment plan for 7 weeks.
5 weeks into treatment I was admitted to hospital - Physically I had withered quickly; palliative care medication was ramped up to help deal with the situation. I remember thinking ‘Wow this whole thing is way worse than I expected”. I felt hopeless.
By treatment end I weighed 61kg – doubt had entered my mind - I’ll never forget the harrowing looks of my children’s faces. The pain of them seeing their Dad in this state was unbearable. I wasn’t winning the fight and I didn’t want to lose my family.
The love and support from family and friends combined with full time care from my wife was clearly critical. However, it was the care from strangers that touched me in a powerful way, it was spiritually enlightening.
During a Chemo session, a lovely lady walked purposefully towards me, my initial thought was that she must have mistaken me for someone else – so genuine, so concerned, so caring to me, a total stranger - would you be interested in a Reiki session? Weirdly it was something I had been considering.
That treatment gave me some respite for the next 24 hours and over the following months I became a regular visitor. Not only benefiting from the treatments, but that genuine care from total strangers was a highlight for me – I am truly grateful for that experience. I made a commitment in my mind during that time - that when I was able, I would repay these people, this place in some way.
As things were looking better towards the back end of 2018, routine tests revealed more cancer had been
detected in the right-hand side of my neck. As I would not survive more radiation / chemotherapy treatment, surgery was the only option. Another spell in hospital, the removal of 40 lymph nodes, zipped up with 50 stitches and back to work I go. My visits to Solaris continue, sometimes for treatments but often to say hello to those wonderful people and volunteers.
They have given me the most powerful gift of HOPE!
Whilst currently I am not out of the woods, I am back working, surfing and planning a new trip with my family to Japan. I am proud to say I have been active with Solaris offering my services and contacts to assist in fundraising activities.
More recently I was humbled to be asked to act as an Ambassador for Solaris for the next year. Something I am honored to undertake – it is my way of giving back to this wonderful Organisation.
My hope is that through my efforts, more people suffering from the effects of cancer will continue to have access to the services as I did. Now that my luck and health has returned, I can use my influence and motivation to raise the much-needed funds for this incredible free support service as well as promoting the exceptional role that the Solaris Cancer Care outlets perform in our Community.
Please support this truly wonderful cause.